There's a lot to unpack from Monday's bombshell indictment of 27 people connected with alleged equine doping rings, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation may not be done with the case yet. When the charges were announced by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, officials said the investigation was ongoing. Louisville's FBI division confirmed Monday afternoon that it had conducted a raid along with the Food and Drug Administration at Tailor Made Compounding Pharmacy in Nicholasville, Ky., in connection with the case.
(Note: Tailor Made Compounding is unaffiliated with Taylor Made Farm, although phonetically shares a name and is also in Nicholasville, Ky.)
Tailor Made Compounding, located at 200 Moore Drive in Nicholasville, is an interesting study. It's owned by MediVet Equine, which according to its website is the originator of MediVet ACS (Autologous Conditioned Serum), SGF-1000, and Clear Scope. SGF-1000 is one of the products mentioned in Monday's indictment and was reported to be a favorite of indicted trainer Jason Servis. The indictment describes it as “a customized performance-enhancing drug purportedly containing 'growth factors,' including fibroblast growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor, which are intended to promote tissue repair and increase a racehorse's stamina and endurance beyond its natural capability. SGF-1000 is compounded and manufactured in unregistered facilities.”
MediVet Equine's website doesn't really tout SGF-1000's performance-enhancing capabilities, focusing instead on “rejuvenation and recovery from training” and “increased general health and wellness.” Tailor Made's website doesn't seem to mention it at all and presents itself as a transparent compounder dealing in human compounded drugs, including formulations for tendon and muscle repair, thyroid and adrenal problems, and sexual dysfunction. It's easy to find a staff page and a contact phone number, as well as an address for Tailor Made. There's not a lot to conjure thoughts of juicing racehorses.
The marketing is very different however, in a product catalogue for a company called Advanced Equine and Camel Solutions, whose website went down shortly after the FBI confirmed its activities at 200 Moore Drive.
“Many products in today's market are fakes, copies, diluted or do not use the purest ingredients,” the catalogue proclaims in its first few pages. “Many companies and individuals have suspect websites and there is a lack of trust and faith in most products in the marketplace due to their deceitful and misleading actions. AECS supplies to the biggest clients and stables around the world because we have built trust and strong relationships based on a high level of integrity.”
The catalogue goes on to feature Buffit Paste, a lactic acid buffer that “improves stamina,” TB-1000 for “supreme high performance” to yield “increased muscle growth, increased energy levels, increased muscle tone” and “increased muscular endurance” among other benefits. There's also Darbe-1000, which “is a form of a protein that helps the body produce red blood cells.”
Several products advertised are intended to be given hours before competition, several right around the time Lasix is given – defeating the whole purpose of third-party Lasix administration and definitely implying they are performance-enhancing drugs.
The description of SGF-1000 in the Advanced Equine and Camel Solutions catalogue is headed by an encouragement to “Obtain Super Performance with Super Natural Growth Factors.” In smaller type, the product benefits listed include “improved stamina and performance levels” and “increased energy levels, vigor, stamina and desire for physical activity” along with “100% safe for competition and has no banned substances.”
It's a somewhat different tone than what most of the public sees when clicking on the first Google result for SGF-1000.
There seems to have been some in-fighting in the world of drug makers here; in 2017 MediVet distributed an open letter to its customers, explaining that it had split with an Australian “supplement” producer that had subsequently begun offering SGF-1000 which MediVet implied was compromised.
“We are, and remain, the original manufacturer of SGF-1000, TB 1000 and MediVet Autologous Conditioned Serum,” the release read.
A 2015 catalogue for Advanced Equine and Camel Solutions lists Tailor Made and MediVet Trading, as well as MediVet's ACS product as “Partners.” While that page was gone in the 2019 catalogue, it still advertised MediVet products available for order.
A call placed to Tailor Made Compounding to inquire about the connection Tuesday afternoon went unanswered, and a voice message left with the company was unreturned. Michael Kegley, Jr., director of sales for MediVet Equine, was among the 27 indicted on federal charges Monday.
In the world of compounded equine drugs, it's not uncommon to see the same pharmacy market products under different banners. In fact, Monday's indictment described just such actions by pharmacist Scott Mangini, who turns out not only to have been the pharmacist at Ergogenic Labs in Wellington, Fla., before the compounder closed, but also one of the individuals behind HorsePreRace and RacehorseMeds – two of the more prolific retailers of products with claims similar to that of Advanced Equine and Camel Solutions.
Mangini was on the radar for federal and state authorities already. HorsePreRace had been warned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014 to stop selling “supplements” marketed to treat or prevent disease in animals. Supplements do not come under the FDA's purview, but drugs do, and for a drug to be sold legally it must go through a rigorous and expensive approval process. By definition, supplements cannot treat or prevent disease in animals – only drugs can. Either your product is a nutritional supplement which is limited in the claims it may make, or you're producing a drug and must clear the necessary regulatory hurdles.
Those violations aren't semantics. Part of the reason for FDA oversight is to make sure a drug is safe and effective.
As far as safety goes, Mangini had been censured by the Florida Department of Health, which found filthy conditions in Ergogenic's clean room (where sterile medications like injectables are compounded) and mislabeled ingredients on the shelves. Part of the reason state authorities inspect compounding pharmacies is to make sure the products on offer don't contain contaminants or incorrect formulations.
Monday's indictment described a customer complaint submitted to Mangini's business partner and co-defendant Scott Robinson. An unidentified customer purchased a bottle of unidentified product from HorsePreRace and stated “starting bout 8 hours after I give the injection and for about 36 hours afterwards both my horses act like they are heavily sedated, can barely walk. Could I have a bottle of bad medicine, I'm afraid to give it anymore since this has happened three times,” to which Robinson replied, “Here is another one.”
CORRECTION: An early version of this article misstated the first name of indicted trainer Jason Servis.
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